Executive Order; Updates, Caution and Advice for Employers & Employees

***Update 02/09/2017: In a unanimous, 29-page holding, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has upheld the freeze on President Trump’s immigration order. This means that the refugees and citizens from the seven countries can continue entering the United States. The three judges flatly rejected the government’s argument to reinstitute the ban immediately for national security reason.***

A Seattle judge issued an order temporarily suspending any and all enforcement actions of President Trump’s Executive Order calling for a refugee and immigration ban, entitled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has docketed the judge’s ruling, and DHS has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order.

Recently, President Trump has issued Executive Orders that impact immigrants, foreign workers and foreign visitors to the U.S. In addition, there have been several rumors and misinformation about the impact of these Executive Orders. We have summarized key elements of these Executive Orders and their impact on immigration.

Contact our office and check CBP and DHS websites regularly for up-to-date information.

+ Executive Order

  • Executive Order (Issued on Jan. 27, 2017), Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States
  • Prohibits entry temporarily (for 90 days) for immigrants and non-immigrants from seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Syria;
    • Please note after the 90 period, you should expect that individuals from these countries may face a heightened level of vetting before being issued U.S. visas or being admitted to the U.S; and
    • Permanent Residents of the U.S. (Green Card holders) were initially affected by this prohibition, but Department of Homeland Security has since clarified that this Executive Order will not impact the ability of Permanent Residents to enter the U.S., however, Permanent Residents from these seven countries may face additional scrutiny.
  • USCIS has suspend adjudication of certain filings for citizens of Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Syria;
  • The Refugee Admission Program is suspended for 120 days, and will in the future give priority based on religion of the individuals if they are a religious minority in their country of persecution;
  • Screening procedures for all immigration programs is to be made uniform;
  • Refugees permitted to the U.S. in 2017 reduced from 110,000 to 50,000;
  • Order agencies to seek assistance of foreign governments in screening visa applicants and to provide the President with a list of counties that do not cooperate with the U.S.;
  • Order inter-agency cooperation and standardization of immigration screening procedures between various departments (DHS, State, NSA, FBI);
  • Implementation of a biometric exit and entry system to the U.S.; and
  • Require interviews for all U.S. visas (visa drop-box / visa waiver programs are suspended);

+ Advice For Employers

  • Have HR check which of your employees may be affected by this Executive Order (as enforcement could begin in the future), contact our office to assess the impact of these individuals;
  • Be aware that certain pending immigration cases for persons from those seven countries may be impacted in the future, and plan your business accordingly;
  • Be cognizant of grace periods for various visas, for example, the 240-day grace period for timely filed H-1Bs. Ensure that individuals do not violate immigration laws and lose their legal status by surpassing such grace periods in case processing of their case is suspended in the future;
  • Prepare your managers and clients for the need to make business/strategy changes in case of temporary loss of employees;
  • Contact our office to assess the impact of these individuals; and
  • Work with an attorney to be prepared for future changes.

+ Advice For Employees

  • Avoid international travel, unless necessary;
  • Be extra cautious if you have criminal record, or past immigration violations, and consult an attorney before you travel;
  • If you are a green card holder with a criminal record, consult an attorney before you travel;
  • If you are already in the country, temporarily avoid going for visa stamping until the existing confusions regarding implementation and legality of Executive Orders have been resolved;
  • If traveling, know the details of your immigration petition, job, employer, salary, title, etc. and be prepared to respond to any questions at the border;
  • Carry your Approval Notice, HR’s phone number, and your attorney’s phone number when you travel, in case you need to contact them;
  • Be aware that CBP may demand access to your phones, laptops, email, social media. Some individuals have taken precautions to remove private or sensitive information before travel;
  • Avoid making political, religious or other inflammatory comments while traveling or arriving;
  • Avoid making political, religious or other inflammatory comments in social media space;
  • Ensure your social media information related to your employment (such as in Linkedin or Facebook) matches your immigration petition;
  • No matter how frustrated you may be, always behave politely and with respect toward any official;
  • Let your employer know your travel plans and contact information;
  • If you have been put through secondary inspection and been admitted into the country, make notes immediately about the questions you were asked and the answers you provided, and provide them to your employer and attorney, as there could be follow-up action based on information provided – such as a site visit or a notice of intent to revoke; and
  • DO NOT sign any document or form that is provided to you by CBP or any other official admitting to any fault or giving up any immigration rights. Green card holders DO NOT sign Form I-407, this will result in the loss of your permanent residence status in the U.S. If asked by an official to sign any such document, you should ask to first speak to a lawyer or see an immigration judge;

As a result of the Executive Orders, numerous court cases related to the Executive Order have been filed, here are the rulings of the courts:

  • Seattle: Judge issued an order which suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upholds the judge’s ruling.
  • New York: Issued an order prevented the deportation of persons who were detained by CBP
  • Washington State: Issued an order specific to two individuals and prevented their deportation until a hearing
  • Massachusetts: Issued orders preventing the detention or removal of persons who were detained by CBP
  • Virginia: Issued an order prevented for 7 days the deportation of green card holders detained at Dulles Airport, and ordered CBP to permit person in custody access to lawyers
  • Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who refused to defend legal challenges to the Executive Order was fired by President Trump and replaced by Dana Boente.

 The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), with which we are actively involved, is on the forefront of advocating for the rights of all immigrants. Please contact us with any concerns you have about these Executive Orders or any other immigration matters.

Please note: As every situation may differ, please consult a qualified attorney regarding your specific case. The information provided is for general informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.